DSA Brings Together Government Officials, Industry Leaders to Discuss Vital Issues for Direct Selling
On October 7–8, the Direct Selling Association (DSA) hosted its annual Legal and Regulatory Seminar in Washington, D.C.
The seminar brought together industry leaders to discuss legal and regulatory issues impacting the direct selling business and how companies and the Association are best positioned to respond.
The Association builds relationships with government officials and agencies who are at the forefront of these important issues and is always pleased to host them to share their opinions and updates directly.
Participants heard from Andrew Smith, director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Mr. Smith provided an essential reaffirmation of the FTC’s support of direct selling.
“Whether the FTC has changed its position on multilevel marketing and the answer is an emphatic no: that multilevel marketing continues to be legal, that there’s nothing inherently unlawful about the direct selling model,” Smith said. “I personally think that multilevel marketing can be superior in many ways to traditional retailing in that it depends on a direct relationship between sellers and consumers and allows companies to reach consumers that they wouldn’t necessarily otherwise reach and it allows for sales to consumers and communities that might be underserved by traditional retail.”
A wide range of other government officials from departments and agencies with jurisdiction over issues important to direct selling addressed the more than 130 attendees. Sharon Lindan Mayl, senior advisor for Policy, Office of Food Policy from the Food and Drug Administration, presented the current legal status and the agency’s path forward on use and consumption of CBD; Nazak Nikahtar, assistant secretary for Industry and Analysis, United States Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration, updated attendees on trade agreements and the administration’s trade policy; and Alison Kilmartin, deputy assistant secretary for Policy, United States Department of Labor, listed the impressive accomplishments of the department on independent work and upcoming actions.
The seminar also had a discussion of independent work from founding members of the Coalition for Workforce Innovation; legal thought leaders discussed recent FTC enforcement actions; direct selling-focused attorneys discussed pressing legal issues; independent work professionals discussed updates on independent contractor status; and the Direct Selling Self-Regulatory Council (DSSRC) examined the first year of the program and next steps. In addition to the content-rich program, industry general counsels and company compliance leads were able to participate in roundtable discussions discussing what’s keeping them up at night and how they are addressing these issues.
Joseph N. Mariano, president and chief executive officer for the DSA, commented on the state of direct selling and shared his thoughts for the industry going forward.
“What we are experiencing today are indeed interesting times, and it is clear that legal and regulatory matters are among the most important considerations that direct selling must consider as the industry envisions its course into the future,” Mariano said.
DSA will continue engaging with government officials and speaking with industry leaders throughout the year to create a clear and prosperous environment for direct selling.